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Home Rule Bill rejected by House of Lords
A view of the Houses of Parliament from across the River Thames ca. 1900 Photo: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Home Rule Bill rejected by House of Lords

Unionists will not be 'kicked out of the Empire' says Lord Londonderry

London, 15 July 1913 - 'Will English troops be ordered at the dictation of John Redmond to shoot down loyal men who wish to remain part of the United Kingdom?', asked Lord Londonderry in the House of Lords in London today.

Speaking in a debate on the Government of Ireland Bill that would grant Home Rule to Ireland, Lord Londonderry said that the opponents of Home Rule in Ulster were drilling as an army because 'they were determined not to sacrifice their birthright, not to submit, vulgarly speaking, to being kicked out of the Empire, and they were determined to oppose it, if necessary, by force of arms.' In a passionate and trenchant speech, he stated: 'No-one who knew anything in regard to Ireland would contradict him when he said that if Home Rule was granted to Ireland, there would be civil war in Ulster.' He continued by saying that he was one of the men who had signed the Covenant of Ulster and was prepared to 'resist to the utmost' the introduction of Home Rule.

Lord Londonderry’s speech came as the House of Lords rejected the Government of Ireland Bill for the second time. Instead, the Lords supported an amendment proposed by Lord Lansdowne that the House should decline to consider the bill until ‘it has been submitted to the judgment of the country.' The margin of defeat was substantial, with Lord Lansdowne’s amendment winning by 302 votes to 64, a margin of 238. In proposing his amendment, Lord Lansdowne, the leader of the Unionist peers, said that the Home Rule Bill was detestable in principle, pernicious in its leading features and inexcusable in the circumstances in which it was brought forward. He particularly objected to the treatment of Ulster, saying that it would make Ulster subject to 'a disloyal majority.' 

'Who's Afraid?' Home Rule and the Parliament Act, Punch, 15 January 1913

In his maiden speech to the House of Lords, the Earl of Carrick supported the introduction of Home Rule for Ireland. He asked: 'Why should Ireland not be given Home Rule? If they were not fit to govern themselves, they were not fit to send representatives to the Imperial Parliament.' He continued by recalling the tremendous reception received by Queen Victoria, King Edward when they visited Ireland and said: 'The first object of those who would be in authority in Ireland would be to make Home Rule a success.'

His speech was greeted with cheers from supporters of Home Rule in the chamber, but the great majority of peers remain strongly opposed to the proposal.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.